Can viruses do good things?

Can viruses be beneficial? Did they aid the development of life on this planet? Can they be used in treating cancer? Can they protect plants against drought and cold temperatures? Can they protect against infection? Are they, in fact, essential for life on Earth? See the background and the research … Background: *Nuwer, R. (2020). Why the world needs viruses to function. BBC Future. *Quammen,…

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Aging chimpanzees and aging humans: not that far apart

As humans and chimpanzees age, they exhibit similar patterns of social behavior. Aging behavior in humans was thought to be based on the ability to realize and understand that our lives were drawing to a close. But, that may not be the case. The similarities between aging humans and aging chimpanzees may point to a deeper evolutionary mechanism. Featured article: *Rosati, A. G., Hagberg, L.,…

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Cancer: is it part of evolution? What can we learn from cancer in animals?

Domestic and wild animals get cancer. Animals, like humans, see an increase in cancer when living in areas of heavy chemical contamination. But, some animal species rarely get cancer; why? And, if any cell could become cancerous, why don’t larger animals have a greater risk of cancer than smaller animals? Animals far larger than humans–like elephants–rarely get cancer. That must mean their cells somehow fight…

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Were we scavengers rather than hunters?

For decades, the theory has been that the emergence of stone tools led early humans (around 2.6 to 3.5 million years ago) to hunt for increasingly larger animals and therefore to eat more meat–and that increase in nutrition led to the increase in human brain size. “Flaked tool use and meat eating became defining characteristics of the Homo genus.” A newer theory, however, suggests that,…

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